Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I can do that?

I've been running.

I started last November - or, re-started, as I've done running here and there for years, but not normally more than three miles at a time, and not that fast - and haven't stopped.  I spent six months just cultivating the habit, and then late last spring I started pushing myself a bit more.  This summer I pushed harder.

This fall, I'm on fire.

I've gone from huffing and puffing and stalling and restarting for a simple three mile run, to the ability to run twelve miles without stopping.  I'm on target to complete a half marathon at the end of the month, and unless something goes wrong, I'm set to do a time of around 1:55:00, or as runners say, "sub two."  Apparently getting under two hours for a half is the time where it gets interesting.  I know my times aren't record breaking.  Not close, not even in the same league.  I want a sub 1:55 half, but check out the world record holders (from Wikipedia):
The official IAAF world record for men is 58:23, set by Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea on 21 March 2010 in Lisbon, Portugal, and for women is 1:05:50, set by Mary Keitany of Kenya on 18 February 2011, in Ras al-Khaimah, United Arab Emirates.   But I'm not racing them, I'm racing myself.

In August, I could run six miles.  In October I can run twelve, and soon that will be 13.1.

Today I ran a mile in 7:23, and I think I can do better than that.  I've been working on distance, not speed, but today I stretched out and that's what happened.

I have no idea where my limits are.  What am I capable of?

The first hardest thing I've ever done is vaginal birth, no pain meds, on Pitocin, with Katherine's hand above her head, while flat on my back because of pre-eclampsia (and required bed rest, even during labor).  It was painful beyond description.  I was holding back until my unborn baby's heart rate dropped and my blood pressure spiked, and they called in crash carts for both of us and the room filled with doctors.  My gynecologist made sure that I knew it was all on the line, and I pushed that baby out even though I knew I was going to tear.  I tore, and I allowed it.  I did it for Katherine: I would have lifted a car in that moment if I thought it would save her.

Lots of women have similar stories.  Childbirth taught me that I was capable of enduring, and surviving, unimaginable pain.

But apparently I didn't learn my lesson, because I needed a bigger lesson.  Cancer: the worst thing I'd ever done.  It was worse than I thought it would be, and I did the unimaginable more times than I can count.  That one was a tougher lesson on every single level: it wasn't hours of pain, it was years.  I was fighting for my life, and for the right to mother Katherine.  I don't wish that on anyone.

And then divorce.  A whole new kind of pain, and an emotional mindbender.  So many of my dreams vanished, and my life's whole paradigm in question.  A stay at home mother "forced" back to work (and then loving it), I had to test my own limits in entirely new ways.  I didn't know I could do it, and it hurt more than I thought it would (I never want to re-live last October, ever), and I survived that, too.

But running: wow.  Running allows me to take all that strength that I learned I had, and pour it through my body, and push myself to do amazing things.  I'm not fighting for survival: I'm fighting to better myself.  I'm doing this for ME.  I know how deep my reserves are - I know that I can do the impossible, because I've done the impossible.

I'm just barely getting started.

And it feels incredible, even when it hurts.

Running pain is so much better than the other kinds of pain.  I listen to my body - I don't want injuries, in part because they'd keep me from running! - and don't go past my limits, but I push myself hard, and I'm amazed that my body responds.  I say "one more mile!" and if my brain doesn't get in my way and say "no!" then my body puts in another mile.  After a while of learning that, my brain started to say "More!"

When I first started running, I thought that a half marathon was practically unattainable, but I thought it could be a great destination.  Now that I'm close, though, I realize that I haven't gotten close to the unattainable yet, because I keep blowing past what I thought was impossible.

I'm not aiming to finish a half marathon any more, I'm aiming at sub 2:00.  Or maybe I'm aiming at sub 1:55.  I no longer know, but I will listen to my body, and go for it.  I'm already planning the next half marathon, and I have my eye on one in January.  (Wouldn't that be a great way to keep the holiday pounds off?)

And I don't think that a half marathon is the end game, I think that a marathon might be.  I've got my eye on that, too.

And then, with a marathon under my belt, and half marathons under my belt, I can work on my times.

I can not believe that today I did a 7:23 mile; my best before that was an 8:00.  I can't believe it.  And I know I've got more in me.  How much more?  I have no idea, but I'm going to try to find out.


This isn't a running blog, and non-runners who are reading this might be shaking their heads and thinking "whatever."  But I want you to know something: this is big stuff.  This isn't about running shoes and tacky shorts, this is about making me into the best person I can be, and living that life.

I'm going after that dream job.

I'm going after that dream man, and together we will give Katherine a new kind of family that will model beauty and love.  (What I do with that dream man when she's not around is none of her business.  ;-) )

I'm going after those dream vacations.

I'm going to change the world.

And because I'm doing "silly" little runs, I'm starting to see what I can do, what I'm capable of.

I'm besting what I thought I could do, and I'm realizing that I've not come anywhere close to my potential.  The metaphor is powerful, and I realize I haven't come close yet to achieving what I am capable of in my life.

I'm harnessing the pain of my life - the lessons of childbirth, cancer, and divorce - and I'm turning it into something.  Running is a tangible reminder of that, and I'm paying attention.

I'm making it happen.

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